Governor Hochul Announces SUNY Climate Corps Internship Program to Expand Paid Opportunities for SUNY Students at State Agencies

December 5, 2023

From the office of Governor Hochul

Students to Be Selected for Internships at DEC, DPS, NYSERDA, OGS, Parks and SUNY System 

Program Lowers Barriers to Immersive, Real-Life Work Experiences Provided in Environmental-Related Fields

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the launch of the SUNY Climate Corps Internship Program to offer paid applied-learning opportunities for State University of New York students at state agencies with environmental and sustainability missions. In the first year of the program, up to 40 students will be selected for immersive, real-life work experiences for compensation and college credit in research and policy at SUNY System Administration and state agencies including the Department of Environmental Conservation; Department of Public Services; New York State Energy Research and Development; Office of General Services; and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Other state agencies with environmental and sustainability missions are expected to participate in the following years.

"SUNY students are prepared to take on the climate fight and shape a future where innovation and environmental stewardship go hand in hand," Governor Hochul said. "The Climate Corps Internship Program is an opportunity for our state to mentor a new generation of public servants, to learn from them and their expertise, and to channel more resources towards this critical fight."

SUNY students will gain the experience, knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the clean technology, energy, circular economy and environmental sectors. Through close partnership between SUNY campuses and state agencies, students will take advantage of a crucial opportunity to apply their classroom work and academic research to current environmental issues and gain governmental and policy-making experience. Students will also be mentored by seasoned professionals in the field, granting interns a deeper insight into the industry.

Providing paid internships enables students from low-income households, in particular, to take advantage of applied-learning opportunities, which have a high impact on student success and completion. In turn, student interns from disadvantaged frontline communities, who are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and understand related challenges, may contribute to solutions.

Paid internships level the playing field, enabling rising environmental leaders to compete based on their interests, training and qualifications, without being constrained by economic circumstances.

Through $500,000 in funding from Empire State Development, SUNY removing barriers for the next generation of innovators to contribute to New York state's climate action goals. The program also creates a talent pipeline for partner agencies, offering them a unique opportunity to engage with high-potential students who may become their future employees and leaders.

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, "The SUNY Climate Corps makes progress toward three important priorities: providing a paid experiential learning opportunity for every undergraduate student at SUNY, advancing economic mobility, and achieving New York State’s sustainability and climate action goals. Our students are excited about careers that help to solve the climate crisis, and there is no better place to do that than in New York’s nation-leading state agencies. Thanks to Governor Hochul, we are starting this program with our agency partners to open more opportunities. My thanks to ESD for funding this initiative, and DEC, DPS, NYSERDA, OGS, and Parks for their partnership with our campuses to develop these programs."

SUNY Board Trustee Stanley Litow said, "The Governor has set aggressive climate goals for our state, and the SUNY Climate Corps Internship Program brings SUNY and state agencies together to educate the next generation of professionals who will contribute to this work. New York has a deep bench of talent across our agencies, and this internship program presents a fantastic opportunity for students to learn from those experts while applying the knowledge they have gained in the classroom. My congratulations to the students who will be able to participate in this program."

SUNY Board Trustee Keith Landa said, "New York has made great strides in mitigating the impact of climate change, and we well know there is more work ahead, particularly in some of our disadvantaged communities. This internship program will offer our students—many of whom come from these communities with a passion to protect our planet and their homes—with paid opportunities to intern with our top environmental- and sustainability-focused agencies. My thanks to Governor Hochul, Chancellor King, and our state agency partners for creating this critical program."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "New York State is taking ambitious, economy-wide actions to address the climate crisis, including generational investments in cleaner energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect communities from the worst impacts of climate change. In partnership with a range of New York State agencies including DEC, SUNY’s Climate Corps Internship Program will empower students from across the state by offering real-world experiences, helping to grow the state’s next generation of environmental stewards. DEC looks forward to partnering with SUNY to provide young people with hands-on training and skill-building to help these students advance meaningful environmental and climate careers. My thanks to Chancellor King for his partnership in creating this fantastic program."

CEO of the Department of Public Service Rory M. Christian said, "Developing a robust clean energy workforce is essential to meeting New York’s climate goals. We look forward to working with SUNY on this important initiative to empower SUNY students with the experience, knowledge, and skills necessary to excel in the clean technology, energy, and environmental sectors. These students will be assigned meaningful work at the Department and will develop skills that will help move them forward in their professional careers."

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "ESD is proud to support the SUNY Climate Corps Internship Program, which increases access to hands-on training that will prepare SUNY students to join the clean energy workforce. These paid internships reflect our goal of inclusive workforce development, in collaboration with our state agency partners who are working to meet Governor Hochul’s ambitious climate goals."

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "Internship opportunities are an invaluable resource for growing a motivated and skilled talent pool as New York continues growing its green economy. NYSERDA is committed to augmenting SUNY’s world-class education with these internship opportunities, and we are proud to collaborate with SUNY to give students, especially those from disadvantaged communities, the experience and insights they need to decide how they would like to contribute to fighting climate change and help secure a brighter, greener future for all."

NYS Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, "Through our participation in SUNY’s Climate Corps Internship Program, OGS and our partner agencies will provide valuable knowledge and skills to SUNY students who have the experience of living in disadvantaged communities that are often more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Through the Climate Corps, we will be giving those young adults the tools and insight they require to successfully tackle and overcome threats to our environment." 

Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Erik Kulleseid said, "Our state parks and historic sites are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This internship program will be helpful in recruiting and developing a next generation of leaders to make our facilities more sustainable and more resilient to climate change and sea level rise. We are grateful to Governor Hochul and SUNY for supporting this work."    

Those eligible include undergraduate and graduate students attending part- or full-time. Candidates will be selected based on demonstrated interest in sustainability careers, as well as potential for leadership and innovation, with a preference for those who come from disadvantaged communities designated under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and students facing related barriers to obtaining an internship experience. 

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit suny.edu.


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